Friday, April 29, 2005

An observation about socialization at a Little League practice

Earlier this week, my older son had his first Little League gathering, which happened to be a game. According to the roster, the children on this team are in Kindergarten (the majority), First (next in line) and Second grade (just three players including my son). I don’t know what his expectations were regarding his feelings about knowing or not knowing the other children on the team. It turns out that he did not know anyone on his team or on the opposing team. He just joined in and did what he was told and played the game and enjoyed it.

Also earlier this week, my 4.5 year-old son had his first Little League gathering, which was a practice. The members of the team were girls and boys who could be in preschool, Kindergarten, and First Grade (until I receive the roster of players I won’t know officially who is in which grade). This son is shy and tends to be reserved and quiet when he is in groups of people who he does not know. With that said he has no problem entering groups or participating in things such as this. As we drove to the practice I suggested that to make friends he introduce himself (and I gave directions on how to do this). He said he didn’t want to, as he was shy. I didn’t comment. When it came time to start practicing he went right in and joined in. By the way, he is the smallest player on the team. I then noticed an interaction taking place on the sidelines. A boy who was more than a full head higher than my son was loudly protesting to his mother that he didn’t want to put his new uniform shirt on and that he didn’t want to join in with the team (who were all on the field practicing). He seemed to me to be about 6 years old and perhaps in first grade. He looked much too big to be a Kindergartener or preschooler based on comparing him to the other children on the team and what I knew of my older son’s stature. He said that he didn’t see any of his friends from school there, that none were in his class, and therefore didn’t want to be on that team. He loudly proclaimed he wanted to change teams or else he’d not do Little League. The mother was speaking in a low voice and I could not hear her consolations but after about ten minutes he finally joined in with the others.

A light bulb went off in my head that this is yet another example of the socialization of school children vs. homeschooled children—and guess what, in this case the schooled child is the one who seems to be lacking social skills! GASP! If school is so great at socializing children, then why would a schooled boy be afraid to play on a Little League team just because he didn’t know anyone on the team? If school properly teaches children to interact with others, then why would he refuse to be on a team just because others from his class were not on his team? I also thought at that moment, that perhaps due to homeschooling, both of my children are always prepared to come into new events not knowing the other children, just because that has been the norm for them, from joining in with homeschooling paid academic classes, field trips with other homeschoolers, sports events with the town’s children, or doing things in public (i.e. visiting a museum). From a young age they have been used to joining into groups in which they don’t know any other children, and neither has ever expressed a refusal to participate just because they don’t know anyone else. It is the norm for my children to be introduced into groups in which they don’t know other participants. My older son is more outgoing and can easily introduce himself to strangers and start conversations. As I said before, my younger son is more shy and quiet at first, but later warms up.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

This ties right in with a conversation I had recently with a friend. She was encouraging me in my decision to homeschool next year, and mentioned that socialization doesn't mean being cooped up in a room with 30 other humans of the same age. It means interacting with all ages and types of people, something more likely to happen in the world of a homeschooler. The LL team, with its range of ages, is an excellent example of that.